Healing spinal cord injuries by reprogramming scar-forming cells – Fierce Biotech

In a new study, engineering cells to overproduce Sox2 in the brains of mice generated tens of thousands of new neurons that formed connections key to restoring motor functioning after spinal cord injury.

Sox2 is a stem cell protein that’s known to proliferate after a spinal cord injury. Now researchers at UT Southwestern and Indiana University are proposing a method for harnessing the protein to promote healing.

The researchers used genetic engineering to reprogram specific cells called NG2 glia to overproduce Sox2 in mouse models of spinal cord injury. Within weeks, the reengineered cells produced mature neurons that contributed to improved motor skills in the animals, the researchers reported in the journal Cell Stem Cell. The study was led by Chun-Li Zhang, Ph.D., professor of molecular biology at UT Southwestern.

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